1. Wired: Why Is This Cargo Container Emitting So Much Radiation? →

    The tale of shipping container TGHU 307703 0 22G1, which showed up at a Genoa port emitting six chest x-rays’ worth of radiation per minute. And interesting information about the mysteries of shipping containers in general, and the security around them (or terrifying lack thereof).

    So after 10 years and more than $1 billion spent on scanners, radiation detectors, and beefed-up intelligence, most US ports are still scanning containers onshore, after unloading. Unfortunately, the detectors are easily foiled. Lots of harmless things are slightly radioactive—kitty litter, ceramic tiles, even bananas. So most detectors are set to ignore low radiation levels. Basic shielding would be enough to mask all but the strongest sources. “The radiation portals that were deployed in the aftermath of 9/11 are essentially fine, except for three problems: They won’t find a nuclear bomb, they won’t find highly enriched uranium, and they won’t find a shielded dirty bomb,” says Stephen Flynn, a terrorism expert and president of the Center for National Policy. “Other than that, they’re great pieces of equipment.”

    From Spook Country:

    "You said they put it on a truck today," she said.

    "Yes."

    "And they’re taking it into the United States, through Idaho?"

    "We think Idaho. The unit inside is still functioning, though, and Bobby is keeping track of that for us. We should be able to anticipate where they’re going to cross."

    "If we fail to do that," the old man said, "and they enter the country undetected, we do have other options."

    "Though we prefer the radiation be detected at the crossing."

  2. Mall Ninja: The T-Shirt →

    If you’ve never seen The Shrine of the Mall Ninja before, set aside a good 15-45 minutes of free time (depending on your reading speed), get out some popcorn, and a beverage of your choice, and settle in for the message board saga of Gecko45, who claims to be “the Sergeant of a three-man Rapid Tactical Force at one of America’s largest indoor retail shopping areas.” The t-shirt linked above was created in his (dubious) honor.

    Mr. Gibson linked to the Shrine on his blog back in 2008. His warning is well taken.

    From Zero History:

    "Our best analyst thinks it’s not a tactical design. Something for mall ninjas."

    "For what?"

    "The new Mitty demographic."

    "I’m lost."

    "Young men who dress to feel they’ll be mistaken for having special capability. A species of cosplay, really. Endemic. Lots of boys are playing soldier now. The men who run the world aren’t, and neither are the boys most effectively bent on running it next. Or the ones actually having to be soldiers, of course. But many of the rest have gone gear-queer, to one extent or another.”

  3. This is the Guilty, a yacht owned by Dakis Jouannou. The dazzle-style paint scheme was designed by Jeff Koons.
Surely Huberus Bigend must want one of these, if he doesn’t have one already. Although it’s possible that he considers this unambitious or passé, considering he’s got an ekranoplan and all.
From Zero History:

"He’s curating suits that do retinal damage, these days."
"He has no taste at all, but he behaves as if he’s had it removed, elective surgery. Perhaps he did."

And:

What Fiona called “dazzle”, though, was new to him. Fiona said it had been invented by a painter, a Vorticist. He’d Google it, when he had the time.

    This is the Guilty, a yacht owned by Dakis Jouannou. The dazzle-style paint scheme was designed by Jeff Koons.

    Surely Huberus Bigend must want one of these, if he doesn’t have one already. Although it’s possible that he considers this unambitious or passé, considering he’s got an ekranoplan and all.

    From Zero History:

    "He’s curating suits that do retinal damage, these days."

    "He has no taste at all, but he behaves as if he’s had it removed, elective surgery. Perhaps he did."

    And:

    What Fiona called “dazzle”, though, was new to him. Fiona said it had been invented by a painter, a Vorticist. He’d Google it, when he had the time.

  4. Nasser al-Neyadi and Omar Alhegelan, setting the world BASE jump record from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. To Garreth’s immense chagrin, of course. And they used parachutes, not wingsuits.

    From Zero History:

    "Don’t look on YouTube."

    "At what, on YouTube?"

    "Burj Khalifa world-championship base jump."

    "That hotel? Looks like an Arabian Nights sailboat? What happened?"

    "That’s Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa’s the world’s tallest building—"

    "Shit—"

    "The jump on YouTube, that wasn’t him. That was earlier. That guy high-pulled, they say here. That’s when—"

    "What happened to Garreth?"

    "The guy on YouTube holds the world’s record now for jumping out of a building. Your boy figured a way to get in and go off it higher up. They still hadn’t finished closing all the windows at the top. There was this crane—"

    "Oh God—"

    "And the security had of course gotten lots tighter, since YouTube guy did his, but your boy’s an expert at—"

    "Tell me!"

    "He was on his way up, however he was managing that, and they got onto him. He got up to a point where the windows weren’t installed, and went off from there. Actually a little lower than YouTube guy—"

    "Heidi!"

    "Did the bat-suit thng. Took it really far out, really low, probably pissed that he’d jumped from below the record point. Trying for points on style."

    Hollis was crying now.

    "Had to come down on a freeway. Four in the morning, there was a vintage Lotus Elan—"

  5. An enterprising soul on CafePress has created a Gabriel Hounds t-shirt.
From Zero History:

No exterior signage. The label, inside, below the back of the collar, was undyed leather, thick as most belts. On it had been branded not a name but the vague and vaguely disturbing outline of what she took to be a baby-headed dog. The branding iron appeared to have been twisted from a single length of fine wire, then heated, pressed down unevenly into the leather, which was singed in places. Centered directly beneath this, sewn under the bottom edge of the leather patch, was a small folded tab of white woven ribbon, machine-embroidered with three crisp, round black dots, arranged in a triangle. Indicating size?
Her gaze was drawn to the brand of the hound, with its almost featureless kewpie head.

    An enterprising soul on CafePress has created a Gabriel Hounds t-shirt.

    From Zero History:

    No exterior signage. The label, inside, below the back of the collar, was undyed leather, thick as most belts. On it had been branded not a name but the vague and vaguely disturbing outline of what she took to be a baby-headed dog. The branding iron appeared to have been twisted from a single length of fine wire, then heated, pressed down unevenly into the leather, which was singed in places. Centered directly beneath this, sewn under the bottom edge of the leather patch, was a small folded tab of white woven ribbon, machine-embroidered with three crisp, round black dots, arranged in a triangle. Indicating size?

    Her gaze was drawn to the brand of the hound, with its almost featureless kewpie head.

  6. Shoes by Common Projects. In my mind, Meredith Overton’s shoes are much like these. Common Projects shoes are simply, elegantly made out of quality materials; the logo is only printed on the insole; and the only visible branding is a serial number, stamped in gold on the outer heel.
From Zero History:

"She liked your shoes."
"She really got them. I’m not sure anyone else ever did, to the same extent. She got what I was trying to get away from. The seasons, the bullshit, the stuff that wore out, fell apart, wasn’t real. I’d been that girl, walking across Paris, to the next shoot, no money for a Métro card, and I’d imagined those shoes. And when you imagine something like that, you imagine a world. You imagine the world those shoes come from, and you wonder if they could happen here, in this world, the one with all the bullshit. And sometimes they can. For a season or two."

    Shoes by Common Projects. In my mind, Meredith Overton’s shoes are much like these. Common Projects shoes are simply, elegantly made out of quality materials; the logo is only printed on the insole; and the only visible branding is a serial number, stamped in gold on the outer heel.

    From Zero History:

    "She liked your shoes."

    "She really got them. I’m not sure anyone else ever did, to the same extent. She got what I was trying to get away from. The seasons, the bullshit, the stuff that wore out, fell apart, wasn’t real. I’d been that girl, walking across Paris, to the next shoot, no money for a Métro card, and I’d imagined those shoes. And when you imagine something like that, you imagine a world. You imagine the world those shoes come from, and you wonder if they could happen here, in this world, the one with all the bullshit. And sometimes they can. For a season or two."

  7. What Price Glory →

    What Price Glory deals in reproductions of World War II-era US and UK militaria. There’s a dash of Scots clothes (sporrans, kilts, etc.), Indochina/Vietnam gear, and Indiana Jones reproductions for good measure. Want a repro pair of US Army mountain boots? You got ‘em. WAC shoes? Here they are. GI sweaters, trousers, etc.? Here.

    The level of obsessive detail may not quite be the same as Buzz Rickson’s, but there is an extent to which I think this related to the “gear-queer” phenomenon noted in Zero History. This is, of course, not for the modern mall-ninja. But the underlying element of attraction to the tactical and military may not be all that dissimilar.

    From Zero History:

    "They want to be soldiers?"

    "Not to be. To self-identify as. However secretly. To imagine they may be mistaken for, or at least associated with. Virtually none of these products will ever be used for anything remotely like what they were designed for. Of course that’s true of most of the contents of your traditional army-navy store. Whole universes of wistful male fantasy in those places. But the level of consumer motivation we’re seeing, the fact that these are often what amount to luxury goods, and priced accordingly. That’s new. I felt like a neurosurgeon, when this was brought to my attention, discovering a patient whose nervous system is congenitally and fully exposed. It’s just so nakedly obvious. Fantastic, really.”